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Thursday, March 24, 2011

TRIBE Way of the Warrior Review #10

Hey Saucy,
This is one of your loyal readers. I depend heavily on your blog to keep up with Carnival and all the happenings in Trinidad. You do an amazing job and congrats to the feature in the Caribbean Beat! We were proud to read it on flight!

I wanted to also share my experience with Tribe as attention should be brought to a few issues:

Thumbs up to the cup for the road: the design was now placed inside a clear plastic covering so this way the print didn't rub of on your hands on the road!

Security was a major issue! On Monday we had some homeless people (vagrants) jumping in tribe!! Hey they deserve to have their fun too - but the standards of tribe is dropping when you paying so much and getting this. Seriously Awful! On Tuesday after lunch, it was as if the security was tired and lazy. What happened when we got to St James. It was OBVIOUS security was a low priority this year.

Music: truck number 5 was the BEST Monday and Tuesday. On Monday we crossed stage with Truck 1 - it was very disappointing to have sound issues when u got on stage. (U could barely hear music on one end of the stage).

Thumbs up to the gift bag that came with the costume.

I played with Iroquois- worst headpiece ever! The design was not Practical at all.

I hope these suggestions can help Tribe improve the quality of service.

YUMA Trinidad Carnival 2011 - Review #5

So following my costume collection (which I wrote to you about before), I tried everything on and the sizes were all correct. Thank goodness I ordered a size up from what i usually wear, as I think their sizes were a little on the smaller side, so real muffin top would have prevailed if I went with my usual sizing.

Further inspection of my headpiece resulted in me becoming increasingly unhappy with it. Apart from the design changes, feathers were falling off, bits were coming unstuck and bending over. Although I knew I could have just taken a glue gun to the headpiece, I was determined not to have to fix a bad egg. Given that I was receiving regular updates on the status of the backpacks (which weren't ready as yet as they were returned for fixing due to an unsatisfied mas camp management), I took the opportunity to mention the issues I had with the headpiece, and was told I could bring it in for an exchange. Great! I also needed to get the under bra belt and the neckpiece adjusted, so I took the pieces in to the adjustment center at the mas camp and returned the headpiece to the distribution center. Danielle, Terri and Sascha C were all very helpful and I was dealt with quickly and efficiently. I also collected my backpack on Friday afternoon and Terri ensured I was happy about everything before being sent on my way.

Given that all the issues I had with the costume were either acknowledged by management (I submitted a letter to them) and/or were addressed by management and staff if they could have been, I will give my Customer Service/Costume Distribution experience an A.

Monday reach now and we left home later than planned, but still met the band on Tragarete road. Apparently they had decided to circle around that St Clair area before hitting the lunch stop sometime around 1-2pm, which I thought was a good idea as it prevented us having to wait a long time to eat. On walking through the band, I was a bit surprised at the lack of people, but that was only because my comparison point is TRIBE, so anything else will seem tiny! For a while we were at a standstill and people seemed to still be warming up to the Monday vibe, but by the time we were nearing lunch, everyone was partyin in full swing.

We walked ahead of the band to get to CIC grounds, and there were lots of mats available, you just picked one up to place where you wanted under tents or out on the grass. Lunch was delish! I had the Hakka option and it was yummy and filling! There were a couple other cuisines as well as a non-alcoholic bar at the grounds. The time taken for lunch was just right IMO. Only thing I would prefer to have is nicer bathroom facilities (in more than one location) and maybe a couple smaller tents to provide additional shade. The female washroom line (which I assume had better facilities than the Porta potty area) was way too long - we stood up for 20 mins, during which time Destra's manager came and asked if it was ok that she skip the line (for whatever reason). Eventually we just went to use a Porta potty, which took 5 mins tops! There was no soap by the Porta Potty's, neither was there tissue outside or anything else I have been privy to in TRIBE (blah!). There was a mirror though and ample TP for use in the potty.

After lunch we went into Woodbrook and got stalled on Aripita by some other band. My friends and I were all having fun, although the standing and waiting did start to make me bored after a while. Security was on point throughout the day though and even encouraged us masqueraders to come back onto the band side of the rope while we were in Woodbrook. We crossed the Adam Smith Square stage sometime between 5 and 6pm, after which I thought that the band may have just gone back to the starting point, so I decided to leave as it was getting dark. I was disappointed we never made it to the stage on Monday, but I figured I'd still have Tuesday to look forward to. Little did I know the band was making their way to the Savannah (*insert exasperation here!!*), but then heard they didn't get to cross after all (*internal phew*....sorry to all those who were upset by this).

So I'd give the Lunch Stop a B+, and the overall Monday experience an A-

Tuesday my MUA ran over time due to other appointments prior to mine arriving late (ggrrr). I was half way ready when I went to him so once I got back home it was just to put on backpack, headpiece and costume belt, take pics and hit the road. We didn’t reach the band till sometime between 10:45 and 11:30am (they were supposed to have left at 7am but not sure if they left on time), and we met them as they were at the base of Frederick street heading North. Now I usually find that the South Quay stage has a lot of energy and vibe, so I was a bit disappointed to have missed it but I figured I have WHOLE day ahead to Play Meh Mas, so what was one little stage. EH HEH! Who tell me to think dat!??

First to begin was IP’s trucks rushing ahead of their band and cutting us off at Park Street, so we had no choice but to fall in line behind them. Then somehow Legends got in there too, so we’re now behind two large bands which resulted in us being at a virtual standstill for hours…It actually took us FIVE HOURS from the time I met the band to reach the Savannah stage! *insert grimace here.* I would have much preferred if the band took a decision to reroute and head back to the Savannah later, than stay there all that time. Eventually, I went and sat in KFC (and had lunch courtesy my friend who thankfully walked with money) dozed off a little and then reluctantly got back up to walk 1 meter again. All of our already paid for lunch was waiting for us back at CIC grounds, which the band never reached to till after dusk, so I dunno what people were doing for food if they didn’t have money on them.

Next off my backpack was a bit uncomfortable, although I had lined the inner side with foam. This would prove to further irritate me throughout the day (one collar bone stayed sore 2 days after mas because of this), until I had to resort to adjusting it to a position that relieved all pain but made it very unstable, so any bend over-ing or jumping resulted in backpack falling all over de place. Other frontliners were also approaching me asking if I didn’t find the backpack was hurting my shoulders so I know it wasn’t just mine.

Then was the issue of congestion towards the front of the band, cause we’re being squished in on all sides by spectators and YUMA masqueraders wanting to come to the front of the band as well. Added to this, I dunno where security was because random people were just traipsing through the band like dey pay for costume too. A man from Legends even wanted to oppose my boyfriend IN YUMA COSTUME because he blocked the Legends guy from wining on me. WTF! I even had to quell a potential argument that was happening in front of me between my bf and another guy with regards to all the pushing etc….people were just getting very, very frustrated and there seemed to be no end in sight.

At least drinks were still flowing (up to a point) so my bf was graciously getting drinks for me since it would have been impossible and unreasonable for me to try to get into the thick of the band. I asked him to bring a bottle of water for me to keep for on the stage (since I get very dehydrated at that point) and THANK GOD I did because after a while there were no drinks to be found. People were BEGGING you for water; I even had security on the track at the Savannah stage asking me for a little.

Once we reached the top of Frederick Street the congestion got to a ridiculous level. You were being moved and stopped whether you wanted it or not and I was desperately trying to get ahead of the band to get some kinda air. At this point the Special Ops security was on the scene but even they couldn’t really do much. It was literally a crush of people. Plus the DJ kept requesting masqueraders to get in their section but like YUMA was just too frustrated at that stage to listen cause all kinda sections were at the front (thereby leaving no room for Oracle, far less for Oracle frontline with backpacks etc). Only the Individuals had some breathing room.

The waiting + heavy congestion + not enough drinks available + costume irritation + getting pushed around in a costume where there’s not enough space for the costume = me being extremely annoyed and miserable. Plus my boots were squeezing my feet so that just added to it. So by the time the stage was actually in sight I had ZERO zeal to be playing mas. I never thought I would see the day I would say that.

I tried all how to get in the mood, and made my way to the front of Oracle since (I wrongly) assumed frontline would get on the stage first. HA! I finally worked up some excitement, giving security a lil talks about letting us go, we READY FOR THE STAGE! Next thing I know is like de whole band rushing forward and past me…I honestly believe frontline should be allowed on first (and I had gotten accustomed to this experience with TRIBE) so imagine fighting with however many people in your section surging forward hitting your backpack, rushing to get on stage first. It wasn’t even an exhuberant chip/wine/jump onto the stage, it was just chaos *sigh* I got over that I went and enjoy myself on the stage, found my boyfriend and wine all over de place, backpack hanging off and all. I then managed to walk back into Libra (which my friend was in) and had a second nice rounds on stage. I was happily coming off the stage (ushered by security) when I turned around and spotted my boyfriend laughing and waving at me in Pisces!!! WHAT!?!?! LOL Well of course I cyah let HIM stay on stage for a THIRD section without me, so I grand charged security, got in a little tussle, ducked even lower and squeezed my way through their arms, backpack and all, headpiece falling off in the process. My boyfriend well laugh at that little spectacle J But I managed to find another friend and had a time! Then I realized I could no longer see because makeup and God knows what else got onto my contacts and stuck there…so I made my way off stage and told my bf we needed to go home so I could switch them.

On the track coming out of the savannah now, and again no security but we were stopping for pictures etc so I wasn’t too concerned. I stopped to put all the bobby pins that were attaching my headpiece to my head into my wrist pouch, and literally I look down at my hand a minute later and NO POUCH! Frantic now I yell to my friend to tell her what happened and she gets my boyfriend and we all start searching the track, up and down….no bag….so I have to assume that someone cut the bag from my hand. The only reason they didn’t get my camera too was because I was holding it in my hand as well as having it strapped around my wrist. Well if the contacts situation didn’t end my Carnival, that bag story certainly did. My bf walked me back home and of course I was !%$@ pissed. Got home and just never decided to go back out again. By this time it was dusk and the band disbanded soon after (we heard)…It was the most anticlimactic Carnival Tuesday I have ever experienced! I actually felt to cry sitting on the bed thinking that I waited all year for this day, did all these things to prepare, for what!?!?! 30 mins on a stage, 5 and more hours of alternating standing and being pushed and then to have my things stolen! And not even really getting the chance to portray and display my mas! Disappointed is an understatement L L L

So given the YUMA related logistical issues plus the other problems I had on the road, I’d give my Tuesday experience a D-

I am planning to write to YUMA again with feedback on their road experience, and offer suggestions for improvement for next year. Given that I left TRIBE because of large numbers, it was very unfortunate that we experienced the kind of congestion we did on Frederick street and I do think Security, had they been more present, could have done something about that. With TRIBE we were also still able to navigate Woodbrook etc, and that is partly a function of them not hitting the South Quay stage anymore. If YUMA wants to continue that route, maybe they need to depart earlier to ensure we don’t get into such a bottleneck again. Or perhaps better “on the road” decision making needs to be done in terms of band routing, to ensure a smoother, more continuouos road experience for masqueraders. I am also not sure whether the band’s security is permitted to keep their ropes up post leaving the stage (on the track), or if they are only allowed to continue on the roadway itself. If they are allowed to be present on the track then this definitely needs to be looked at because I am not the only person whose valuables were taken from them while in the band.

Everyone’s been asking me whether I would play with them again next year, but I am still undecided. I think a combination of value for money (in terms of costume choices + options), confidence in customer service & band management and a bit of faith will guide my decision next year.
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